RootsTech 2014 focused heavily on story. Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, told us in her keynote that oral history can be lost in just three generations, if not passed down in a deliberate way.
The name of this blog is “No Story Too Small.” I firmly believe that no story is too small to be recorded and to be cherished. I wish I knew the answers to Judy’s questions. I wish I knew if my great-grandfather could swim or what my great-grandmother’s favorite toy was.
You might be like me and keep saying, “Yeah, I really need to <x>.” Interview parents and other relatives. Label the photographs. Write down some stories.
We know we should. We know we need to. Yet, we don’t.
We allow ourselves to fall into the trap of telling ourselves that we’re too busy. We allow ourselves to think that the task is too big. We allow ourselves to think that we don’t know how or that we don’t know where to start.
We allow ourselves to be complacent.
We have to stop that. Now.
We’ve all seen the sad reminders of how short life truly is. I lost a cousin last fall; he had been ill for years, but his death was actually sudden and unexpected. Todd Hansen of BYUtv’s “Story Trek” told about a man he interviewed and got his life story; the man died the next day. A good friend of mine lost his father earlier this week.
Those losses seem to happen to someone else. Until they happen to us. And they will happen to us.
The task of recording your family’s stories may seem monumental. The key is to start. That’s all. Just start. But you have to do it, and you have to do it now.
So stop reading this post and go do something about it right now. Go call a relative and ask what was their favorite birthday present ever. Pick up a photograph and label it. Write down how you learned how to drive. It doesn’t matter what you do or what format it takes — just go do it. (As soon as I publish this, I’m going to email this photo to my sisters to see if they remember what the occasion was that they were cooking with Grandma.)
Seriously. I mean it. Stop reading this and go do something about your family’s stories. Right now.